SFO faces inquiry into operations
Following a number of embarrassing months for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) involving several failed cases, the Attorney General Dominic Grieve has ordered a full-scale inquiry into the agency’s operations.
The Financial Times reports that the inquiry has been ordered with the aim of improving operations at the SFO prior to the arrival of David Green, the incoming head of the agency. The inquiry will be led by the head of the Crown Prosecution Inspectorate Service, and will attempt to find the underlying cause of a number of failed high-profile prosecutions for corporate fraud.
The latest blow to the agency came in December when the office’s investigation into Vincent Tchenguiz was brought to a sudden halt, after errors in search warrants used to raid the tycoon’s home. These failings, combined with an increasing number of departures and dwindling resources, has left the SFO seriously low on public confidence, with many questioning its ability to properly investigate corporate fraud matters.
A spokesman has said: “There’s no statutory requirement for the SFO to be inspected. It’s a constructive process and good practice, and that’s why it’s happening”. The Attorney General’s office has confirmed that the agency is not in danger of losing its powers to investigate serious fraud.
Incoming head David Green is said to be comfortable with the investigation, and hopes it will pave the way for much needed reform at the agency. It remains to be seen whether the report will investigate individual cases, or concentrate on the agency’s operations as a whole.
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